Albert Pyun – Moviemaker 

 Those of you out there that love trashy movies, movies with cyborgs or movies set in post apocalyptic wastelands, then chances are you’ve seen Albert Pyun’s work at least once. My first foray into the work of Albert Pyun was the Jean-Claude Van Damme action movie ‘Cyborg’ back in 1992. I had already been a Van Damme fan at this point, but I loved the whole post apocalyptic setting and after watching it, I set out to find more of Pyun’s work.
  
My next stop was Dollman starring Tim Thomerson, and also an early role for Jackie Earle Haley. This was a crazy movie, with Thomerson as an intergalactic space cop who crash lands on earth. However whereas he is normal size on his home planet, he is only doll size on Earth. After befriending a woman and her son, Dollman must protect them from an angry gang and other enemies that seek to cause them harm. It was great fun with some good effects. Although I must say the effects have aged badly now that we are in the realms of high end CGI. 
  
After Dollman I found out that Pyun had directed a Captain America movie, which I was very eager to see. At the time I remember really enjoying it, but again now that we have CGI and Chris Evans as Cap, it just doesn’t hold up well to repeated viewings. Albert Pyun does well with limited funds, and this is something that is true with all of his movies. He’s a man who’s creativity seeps forth from every frame, and who’s passion for movies is so infectious, that you can’t help but admire the man. He is inspiring because he adapts to whatever restrictions may be placed on him, which is usually in the form of limited budgets. 
  
Brain Smasher: A Love Story was the next film I stumbled across. Andrew Dice Clay stars as a bouncer who has to protect Teri Hatcher from Shaolin Monks. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the basic gist of the story. It’s not the best film I’ve ever seen, and to be fair probably not something I would watch again anytime soon. That said it was cheap to buy so I can’t complain too much. Only recently have I stumbled across the Nemesis series. So far I’ve only watched the first one, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Oliver Gruner stars as a cyborg cop who is tasked by his boss to find and subdue some cyborg terrorists. It’s pretty basic stuff story wise, but the action and stunts are top shelf and I must say that this is my second favourite Pyun movie, just behind Cyborg with Van Damme. 
  
Another Albert Pyun movie I have recently watched is Mean Guns starring Ice T and Christopher Lambert. It’s about a group of villains gathered together in a prison, forced to fight to the death for $10million dollars. It’s got good action, but the dialogue feels very forced, and Ice T isn’t the best actor in the world. He pretty much seems to play the same character in every movie I’ve seen him in. 
  
I’m happy to say that Albert Pyun is still making movies, but health issues have required him to slow his output down just a tad. I do hope we get to see many more of his movies for a long while yet. He really does dig deep and deliver his best effort, even if the end result isn’t always something you’d watch again in a hurry. It’s that kind of willingness to entertain that I find very admirable, and is why he is a director I have a lot of time for. There are still plenty more of Albert Pyun’s movies out there for me to discover, for that I am both thankful and excited. 
  
I’d like to thank 101 Films for the Nemesis boxset and Mean Guns. They are both available to purchase now via https://101-films-store.myshopify.com/

 
JM

Stung (2015)

  
Julie (Jessica Cook) and Paul (Matt O’Leary) are on their way out to the American countryside to cater a fancy party. However things take a turn for the sinister when a wasp nest is disturbed and the partygoers are set upon by giant mutated wasps. 

  
The wasps tear through the party, forcing some to retreat to the house in a desperate fight for their lives. Lance Henriksen plays the Mayor, Carruthers and the home owner is played by Clifton Collins Jr. The practical effects and gore are done very well. There is mild CGI, but this is a film that understands its core audience and also pays homage to the horror films of the 80’s, so the CGI is used sparingly and mainly just to show the wasps flying. 

  
More of a horror comedy, than a straight horror, there are some laugh out loud moments, particularly from Henriksen who seems to be enjoying himself. Some may recognise Matt O’Leary from another one of my favourite horrors ‘Frailty’. He plays the part of the reluctant hero quite well, and throws himself into the role. Jessica Cook is okay, but just feels like the generic damsel in distress, despite the films best efforts to make her appear otherwise. Clifton Collins Jr. is great as the hunchbacked Sydney, the homeowner with a dark secret. He seems to be able to slip into any role with ease and I’m always pleased to see him on screen. 

  
Lovers of old school horror comedy will find plenty to like here, however it’s not hard to see why this has gone straight to DVD here in the UK, as it lacks in places. That said I still recommend you give it a watch as it’s perfect beer and pizza entertainment. This copy of Stung was generously provided by the folks over at http://www.fetch.fm, and is available to pre order now with a release of October 26th….just in time for Halloween. 

  

3/5

JM

The Voices (2014)

  
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) lives alone with his dog called Bosco and his cat, Mr. Whiskers. He works in a factory that makes bathroom products and makes regular visits to a psychiatrist whom he tells his problems to, and Jerry has problems. Jerry hears voices, his cat and dog speak to him on a daily basis, but Jerry tries to get on with his life without that affecting him. 

  
When Jerry meets Fiona (Gemma Arterton) at the office party, he thinks he may finally have a chance at normality. However when Fiona stands Jerry up after they make a date, things take a turn for the sinister and slightly bizarre. 

  
My problem with The Voices is it tries to balance horror and comedy, but fails miserably. Its wild shift in tones make it hard to enjoy, and the film doesn’t really flow. Where films like Shaun of the Dead managed to seamlessly mix horror and comedy, The Voices jumps between the two rather than have them work harmoniously. Ryan Reynolds is good in the role of Jerry, and also in doing the voices of Bosco and Mr. Whiskers, but the film just can’t recover. 

  
The film tries to show mental illness in a realistic light on occasion, but the comedic tone undoes any hard hitting effect of the seriousness that we are presented with. We see what Jerry’s apartment looks like when he’s off the pills (clean), and what it looks like when he’s on them (blood soaked and excrement filled), but it’s so cackhanded that it hurts the movie. The Voices is available to purchase now from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk. 

  
2/5

JM

Voices of the Damned (2015)

  
When I read ‘The Venus Complex’ by Barbie Wilde, I was enthralled. It was magnificent in every way, and I knew then that the literary and horror fiction world in general, truly had someone special on their hands. So you can probably imagine my glee when I was offered the chance to review Barbie Wilde’s new work, the brilliant short story collection ‘Voices of the Damned’. The opening story is erotically charged and bristling with descriptions of violence, that those who’ve read Barbie’s previous work will have come to expect. 

   

Hellraiser fans will be happy to discover that the ‘Female Cenobite’ actually has a name and a past which is given great detail in this book. It really is an experience worth having, and those of you with a love of horror, violence and the odd dash of erotica will find much to like here.

 

Dotted between each story are pieces of exquisite artwork from folks such as Clive Barker, Nick Percival, Eric Gross and Steve McGinnis, plus a few others. I found myself studying each piece before pressing on with the story and they really do capture the essence of the horrors Barbie Wilde manages to put down on paper.  ‘Voices of the Damned’ is released on October 31st 2015 and is available for preorder now via this link: 

https://www.sstpublications.co.uk/Voices-of-the-Damned.php

*Update* Barbie Wilde has informed me that there’ll be two editions available of Voices of the Damned. A standard hardback release and a deluxe edition. Both will be available via Amazon on 31st October. However, if you order directly from the link above, you will get a free book will all of the artwork inside. Now that’s great news. 
  
5/5

JM

Romanzo Criminale. Coming soon from Arrow. 

  
Following the success of their most recent Italian language TV drama titles, most notably the acclaimed Naples-set crime saga Gommorah, along with the likes of Inspector De Luca and Inspector Nardone, Arrow Films will continue to house quality international crime thriller shows from various European territories and beyond, under their sub-label ‘Nordic Noir and Beyond’.
 Ahead of the arrival of the upcoming Witnesses and the highly anticipated The Bridge Season 3, both due for release later in Q4, Arrow are excited to announce the arrival of Romazo Criminale, a hard edged and violent look at the criminal underworld of Rome set between the 1970s and the 1990s. Season One will be released on DVD 14th September and focuses on the darker side of Rome during the 70s.

 Synopsis

A criminal known as ‘Lebanese’ has a dream: to conquer the underworld of Rome. To carry out this unprecedented feat he puts together a ruthless and highly organised gang. Their progress and changes in leadership take place over twenty-five years, from the 1970s into the 90’s, and are inseparably intertwined with the dark history of modern Italy: terrorism, kidnappings and corruption at the highest levels of government. Throughout these years Police Lieutenant Scialoia sticks to the gang’s trail, trying both to bring them to justice and to win the heart of Gang Member Dandi’s girlfriend Patrizia.

JM

13 Assassins (2010)

  
How I haven’t already reviewed this amazing movie I don’t know. So I am making up for that now. This is in my top 5 all time favourites and by the time you watch it, I’m pretty sure it’ll be in yours too. Viewing this for the first time is an experience that I’d love to feel again. 

  
The plot begins when the master of Namiya clan commits speppuku. A samurai warrior by the name of Shinzaemon Shimada (Kôji Yakusho) is summoned by the shogun’s advisor to hear the tale of a man who’s son and daughter-in-law were brutally slain by the evil Lord Naritsugu. Shinzaemon also meets a woman who was mutilated by Lord Naritsugu. She writes with her mouth pleading with Shinzaemon to kill Lord Nartisugu. Shinzaemon gathers 11 other warriors and together they seek to dispose of Lord Naritsugu. 

  
The build up is amazing. Some folks may watch this and worry it’s moving along too slow, but I implore you to bear with it, because the final third is quite possibly one of the greatest 40 or so minutes ever committed to celluloid. Takashi Miike who is normally known for his brutal Yakuza films and seriously disturbing dramas such as Visitor Q, has created possibly the finest samurai movie ever made, and yes I have seen Seven Samurai. There is some great drama delivered here, and the action is spectacular. Lord Naritsugu is one of the vilest villains to ever grace the screen, and you are willing the 13 Assassins to complete their herculean task. 

  
Every actor involved is magnificent, really bringing to life what it was like during those dark times. There is the odd helping of humour to lighten proceedings, mostly coming from the stranger that helps the 12 warriors become 13, which really rounds off how great this film is. I cannot recommend this enough, and 10 years down the line this, if it isn’t already, will be labelled a classic. This is a movie seriously worthy of your time. I urge you to see it. 

5/5

JM

  

The Park Is Mine (1985)

  

Tommy Lee Jones plays Mitch, a Vietnam veteran who takes over Central Park after the suicide of his old war buddy. He decides to take drastic action to highlight the plight of veterans living in the U.S. whom he feels are unfairly neglected and forgotten about when they cease to be of use to anyone. 

  
Thought of as a loser by his ex-wife and struggling to hold down a job, Mitch feels that doing what he’s doing will give him a purpose. However the police seek to rid New York of what they see as a menace and go all out to bring Mitch to justice, dead or alive. When a reporter Valery (Helen Shaver) enters the park to cover the action, it’s up to Mitch to make sure that both of them are able to leave the park alive. 

  
Tommy Lee Jones is excellent as Mitch, a disillusioned veteran looking for some meaning in a world he no longer feels apart of. Helen Shaver is passable as the reporter, but never really feels like she has much to do. The score by Tangerine Dream is suitably atmospheric also. 

  
It’s well worth watching if you can get hold of it. This copy of The Park Is Mine was graciously provided by http://www.twistedanger.com and is available now to purchase. 

4/5

JM 

  

The World of Kanako (2014)

  
Akikazu Fujishima (Kôji Yakusho) , an ex-cop, is contacted by his estranged wife to find their daughter Kanako (Nana Komatsu) who has gone missing. Akikazu agrees to help, believing that the return of his daughter can help repair the damage to his family. However the majority of Akikazu’s familial problems stem from his aggressive mental state. 

  
As Akikazu begins his investigation, he gets to know some of Kanako’s ‘friends’. They paint a completely different picture of the girl Akikazu thought he knew. It soon becomes apparent that Kanako was not the person he thought, and is the focus point for many people’s misery. The deeper Akikazu treads into the investigation, the more dangerous it becomes, leaving no chance of redemption for Akikazu. 

  
The opening credits were very 70’s, with a mixture of Saul Bass art and funky exploitation music.  This is a supremely dark movie however, and there is barely a ‘likeable’ character amongst the cast. All of them having some sort of problem in their lives and not leaving you many people to root for. That said, Yakusho is great as Akikazu, portraying a very Raymond Chandler-esque sort of character. A man with many faults of his own and desperate to get back a life he never really had to begin with. 

  
The violence, when it happens, is brutal and very harsh. There are scenes that some may not have the stomach for, but it’s done in a way that serves the story. All of the actors portray their respective characters brilliantly and you believe the story that is being told. It is a very good movie and one I recommend you see. 

4/5

JM

  

 

What’s your pleasure?

  
Have you ever been browsing Amazon or Zavvi looking for a movie from your childhood, but you just can’t find it? Or maybe you’ve stumbled across some cult weirdness late one night on Channel 4, and you’re wondering where you can get a copy? Well look no further folks. I am pleased to point you to a site where nearly all your cult pleasures can be found. 

  
Twisted Anger is a site chock full of hard to get movies. There are movies that even I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing on there. Want a DVD of Michael Mann’s ‘The Keep’? Then head on over to http://www.twistedanger.com where you can acquire that and much more, it really is a treasure trove of cult greatness folks. 

JM

Do you hear The Voices too?

 
Due for release on 13th July from Arrow Films is the dark comedy The Voices, starring Ryan Reyonlds who begins to behave a little strangely when his cat and dog start talking to him. More info in the press release below:

DVD, BLU-RAY & STEELBOOK

UK RELEASE: MONDAY 13th JULY

“Utterly compelling” – ShortList
“A gory and unexpectedly pleasurable dark comedy” – GQ Magazine
“Like a Wes Anderson nightmare” – New Empress Magazine
  
Arrow Films is pleased to announce the DVD, Blu-Ray and Steelbook (the latter exclusive to Zavvi.com) release of horror-comedy The Voices starring Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick on Monday 13th July.
  
The Voices is directed by Marjane Satrapi, the Iranian author and filmmaker best known for the Academy Award nominated animated film Persepolis (2007). Ryan Reynolds stars as a troubled, med-addicted factory worker driven to murder by his talking pets, a psychopathic cat called Mr. Whiskers and Bosco, his peace-loving dog. Reynolds also voices both of the animals, while Jacki Weaver, Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick play the women unfortunate enough to cross his path. The Voices is available as an exclusive SteelBook via Zavvi.com
 
I’m definitely picking this one up and I shall also be reviewing it very soon, so stay tuned. 

JM